Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • May 13

Common Yellowthroat. These skulking birds are very hard to spot, though extremely easy to hear. This opening encounter would set the tone for a hike of many unexpected sightings!

Scarlet Tanager. These birds nest in the park, so I will at least hear them on a daily basis until the fall. However, they prefer to stay hidden in the upper forest canopy, so seeing them is an entirely different matter. Any day you see a Scarlet Tanager is a good day!

Scarlet Tanager

Cedar Waxwing. These birds are starting to trickle into the park, mostly by the creek. Waxwings nest in late summer.

Baltimore Oriole. This is a breeding female as indicated by the lack of the solid black hood of a breeding male. As with most species, females tend to be seen far less often than the males.

Baltimore Oriole. This picture was taken exactly two weeks ago as I write this, when ...

Baltimore Oriole. The female is harvesting nesting material. Orioles are master weavers and their hanging basket nests are engineering marvels. It takes about a week for an oriole to construct its nest.

Baltimore Oriole. I have a general idea where this bird's nest probably is. I have found another working Baltimore Oriole nest by the bluebird nesting boxes.

Great Crested Flycatcher. Another easy to hear and hard to spot bird!

Great Crested Flycatcher

Yellow Warbler. Here's another thing I don't see very often: a Yellow Warbler bathing in a rain puddle in the middle of the trail.

Yellow Warbler. This is about the most pronounced I've ever seen the red breast streaks of a male Yellow Warbler.

Red-eyed Vireo. Why stop now? Here's another rare sight of an easy to hear and very hard to spot bird. Red-eyed Vireos (their eyes shine bright red in direct sunlight which was nowhere to be had on this day) prefer the upper forest canopy and are almost always moving.

Red-eyed Vireo. Though this particular bird was also moving around, it stayed surprisingly low, close-by, and right on the trail for quite a long while.

Meadow Salsify. This is a very common wildflower. It is also known as Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon because they tend to only be open in the morning.

Tree Swallow

American Lady. This butterfly's wings are pretty worn. I no longer notice these butterflies about. The field guide suggests they produce 2-3 broods a year, so perhaps this is the breeding pause in sightings.

Wood Thrush. I was very pleased with this encounter! Wood Thrushes are very skittish birds and even if you can approach slowly and stand motionless for pictures, once you start moving again to leave, no matter how carefully, it can flush the bird. In this case I was able to approach, get pictures, and leave without the bird flying off. It just kept singing its magical song, even though it was fully aware of my presence. Perfect end to a remarkable outing!